Stinkeye, Llantera: Down the Gutter and into Space

Posted in Reviews on August 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye llantera

If Stinkeye have anything in common with the current West Coast heavy psych boom, it’s the possibility that at any moment — any moment at all — it just might be time to boogie. But at the same time, true to their geography, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are a little more inland in their sound, a little more suburban-skatepark-disaffection and garage-rehearsals than they might be were they otherwise basking in the coastal sunshine of San Diego. Issued by Milwaukee Junction Records and Blade RecordsLlantera is the debut full-length from the young three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hosley, bassist Harris Smull and drummer Anthony DeMuro, and though it takes some tonal and tempo cues from the unabashed I-got-this-legally new-school stonerism of Fuzz across its span, whether it’s the Dead Meadow march of post-intro opener “Orange Man,” the Sungrazer-style vocal harmonies of the subsequent “Pink Clam,” the weirdo-born bounce of “No Spoon” or the grunged-out, semi-punk fuckall thrust of closer “Feed,” Stinkeye careen from one influence to another with fluidity more deceptive than the forwardness of their hairy tones and cymbal washes might at first convey.

Including the digital bonus/maybe-hidden track “Fink Ployd,” Llantera checks in at a thoroughly manageable 37 minutes — ready and seemingly waiting for whoever might want to pick it up for a vinyl release to do so — and is the follow-up to the band’s first outing, last year’s Llantera Demos (review here), a four-track demonstration released in October that also featured “Orange Man,” “Pink Clam,” “Llantera” and “Fink Ployd.” If that seems like a quick turnaround between a first demo and a first long-player, it is, and Llantera has its rough edges to be sure, but that ultimately becomes a part of the album’s appeal, as shown in the harsher bite of “Feed” or the manner in which “Bringer of Grief” shifts from its instrumentally jamming first half to the languidly bouncing verses of its second. Youth is very much on Stinkeye‘s side. The energy of their delivery and the sense of exploration at root in the construction of their material both benefit from the freshness of the experience on the part of the band. They’re new to their potential listenership? Well, they’re new to themselves too.

Accordingly, in addition to actually being partially comprised of the same tracks, Llantera carries forward the overarching rawness of the Llantera Demos. Produced and engineered by Dylan Thomas, “Pink Clam,” “No Spoon” and the rest of the cuts bask in a natural vibe and a variable mix that sees Hosley‘s vocals brought to the fore in volume on “Orange Man” and “Pink Clam” and the latter portion of “Bringer of Grief,” highlighting a burgeoning melodic approach that one can only hope the guitarist and the band as a whole will develop as they move forward, and pushed back into echoing trippery to allow the added percussion in “No Spoon” to flourish amid the fuzzy and desert-hued guitar leads while Smull‘s bass — with a ’90s-style funk at its core — provides the grounding force necessary to tie it all together before DeMuro‘s drums lead the way into the slowdown at the end that explodes and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard wash rounds out as the transition into “Feed.”

The smoothness of that transition, as well as that earlier between the 28-second intro “The Calm” — which functions in direct defiance of its title with an immediately abrasive push of guitar noise — and the ultra-welcoming initial roll of “Orange Man,” isn’t to be understated, but this too feels like an element in progress on the part of Stinkeye, something they’ll build on from here for their next release. Still, as righteously paced as their material is throughout Llantera, and as much as they shift from one vibe to the next — the title-track becoming a party of gang shouts and the record’s most shuffling rhythm, much thickened by Smull‘s low end and clearly having a great time getting alternative-universe surf-rock in Hosley‘s guitar over DeMuro‘s steady, handclap-worthy snare before “Bringer of Grief” more fully introduces the edgier single-word shouts foreshadowed in “Pink Clam” that will jab throughout “No Spoon” to follow — the front-to-back impression is hardly lacking flow either way. Repeat listens to the entirety, which are well earned, only make this linearity more resonant.

Add to that little hints of bizarro nuance like a possible lyrical mention of Barbara Bush in “Pink Clam” and the structural departure in “Bringer of Grief,” and Llantera becomes a decisively engaging piece of crafted fuzzy, heavy rock, infused with the sneer of garage and some noisier impulses for good measure. That, as the debut full-length from a relatively new band, it says as much as it does about their potential makes it all the more welcome, but there’s value in the breadth Stinkeye present in the here and now as well, and as much as one looks forward to hearing how they might bridge the sonic/stylistic gaps between “Llantera” and “Feed” as their methods evolve over time, the fact that they can put both of those songs together in relatively close proximity on a short-ish album isn’t to be ignored. And while one suspects that pieces like “Feed” and”Bringer of Grief” and “No Spoon” were already in the works, the quick turnaround between the demo and the long-player bodes well for future productivity too.

Llantera might be a sleeper in terms of the response it gets, but it puts Stinkeye in league with next-generation upstarts like FoggBison Machine, Salem’s BendCloud Catcher and perhaps even Slow Season (among others) in fostering a new breed of American heavy that learns from the past even as it places itself at the cutting edge of what’s to come. Of course, what Stinkeye become as they pass through the next few years is up to them — they could call it quits tomorrow and completely pull the plug on the potential shown here; it’s certainly happened before — but Llantera fills one with hope for what they might be able to contribute to this pastiche and kicks more than enough ass besides to be counted as one of the best debuts of 2017. May they continue to work quickly, may they continue to boogie at will, and may they continue to get weirder as they go.

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Stinkeye Post “No Spoon” Video; Debut Album out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye

Phoenix, Arizona, bringers-of-fuzzy-shenanigans Stinkeye released their debut full-length, Llantera, last month, just prior to hitting the road on a tour along the Pacific Coast to support it. They’ve been selling CDs at shows, tapes can be preordered ahead of an Aug. 5 issue through Blade Records and one can purchase the album via iTunes — it’s not currently on their Bandcamp — but if it’s mainly at shows for now or the three-piece is working out something else for a vinyl release, then fair enough. I dug the hell out of their 2016 four-tracker, Llantera Demos (review here), and Llantera proper is a more than worthy follow-up — not just because it happens to work in all four of those songs, either.

I think you can both hear and see my reasoning in the video below for “No Spoon,” directed by Andrew Hosley. A young band comprised of Hosley on guitar/vocals, Harris Smull on bass and Anthony DeMuro on drums, Stinkeye effectively bring together elements of grunge, fuzz rock and heavy psych, and with a laid back garage-style roll, their vibe is languid and tripped out. The clip follows suit with a weirdo edge that feels like it was born in the ’90s much as the band themselves probably were. Maybe. In either case, whatever’s up with Llantera, officially it’s been put out once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got nabbed somewhere along the line for vinyl issue by this or that label, since the trio groove so fluidly across its span and even in the sphere of West Coast heavy psych, what they’re doing stands out as being less ’70s derived and more about depth than the shuffle. It’s an easy one to dig.

And of course, I hope you do precisely that as regards the “No Spoon” clip, which you’ll find immediately following here:

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

“time slips away, down the gutter, and into space”

Artist: Stinkeye
Song: No Spoon
Album: LLANTERA
Label: Milwaukee Junction Records

Song Produced and Engineered by Dylan Thomas.

Video produced and edited by Andrew Hosley / Filmed by Bailey Price and Morgan Richmeier.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

grey-gallows-underlord

Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stinkeye Release Llantera June 15; West Coast Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Phoenix, Arizona, three-piece Stinkeye have finished work on their debut album, Llantera and are wasting no time in getting it out to the public. After catching the ear with the four-track Llantera Demos (review here) last year, the band will issue the completed seven-song record on June 15. All four songs from the demo — “Orange Man,” “Pink Clam,” “Llantera” and “Fink Ployd” — will appear on the full-length, and upon the release, Stinkeye will turn around and quickly hit the road the next night to begin supporting it on the West Coast, heading up to Oregon and back south again.

A few shows on that stint are still coming together, so if you’re in a position to help out the band with a gig or put them up for the night or give them food or whatever it is you can do, I doubt they’d argue with you. It’s the right thing to do, in any case.

I’ll hope to have more on this to come, but here are the album announcement and tour dates to start with, as sent over by the band:

stinkeye

60’s psychedelic Hash Rock trio from the scorching pavements of Phoenix, Arizona, STINKEYE release their debut album “LLANTERA” June 15th. The drums for the album were recorded at Deep Roots Studios in Tempe, AZ, but most of the record was done at Savage Tactic Studios.

Tracklisting:
1. The Calm
2. Orange Man
3. Pink Clam
4. Llantera
5. Bringer of Grief
6. No Spoon
7. Feed

The album release will followed immediately by a two-week tour through the West Coast starting June 16th. Several dates still TBA.

Stinkeye on tour:
Friday June 16 Bancroft San Diego CA*
Saturday June 17 Gnar Burger Los Angeles CA*
Sunday June 18 Black Light Long Beach CA
Monday June 19 TBA Los Angeles CA
Tuesday June 20 TBA CA
Wednesday June 21 TBA San Francisco CA
Thursday June 22 Johnny B’s Medford OR
Friday June 23 House Show Redmond OR
Saturday June 24 TBA Portland OR
Sunday June 25 TBA Eugene OR
Monday June 26 TBA Medford OR
Tuesday June 27 Winters Tavern San Francisco CA
Wednesday June 28 TBA Los Angeles CA
Thursday June 29 TBA San Diego CA
* with Colour TV

https://www.facebook.com/stinkeyeblows/
https://stinkeye666.bandcamp.com/releases

Stinkeye, Llantera Demos (2016)

Tags: , , , , ,

Goya, Harvester of Bongloads: And Riffs for All

Posted in Reviews on March 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

goya-harvester-of-bongloads-closeup

“*-Please note: Cover art is cropped above. Full cover is NSFW and can be viewed by clicking here.-*”

Kudos to whichever member of Phoenix, Arizona, trio Goya came up with the idea of calling their third album Harvester of Bongloads — a title that not only speaks to the megastoned nature of the band’s output but contains a reference to classic metal as filtered through anti-everything fuckall, which is pretty much the core of what guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, bassist Sonny DeCarlo and drummer Nick Lose have on offer throughout the four-track/40-minute outing.

It’s a record that revels in its own misanthropy as its core and defining principle — beyond even the inclusion of the 11-minute “Misanthropy on High” on side B — and it boils down to its very essence the appeal of Goya‘s work to-date across their albums, 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 debut, as well as the slew of shorter releases that have surrounded them, from last year’s Forever Dead, Forever Stoned demo reissue and Doomed Planet (discussed here) and The Enemy (review here) EPs and the Nirvana tribute single, Drain You b/w D-7 (review here), back through 2014’s Satan’s Fire EP (review here), etc.; the three-piece proving vibrant and prolific in terms of output despite having adopted a “drop out of life” ethic to a nigh-on-dogmatic degree. Still, with Harvester of Bongloads, loathing and consuming low end rule the day, and Owens‘ post-Jus Oborn vocal delivery tops the maddening wizard-doom roll with a thick-smoke haze that could hardly be more of a fit for a song like 20-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Omen,” which breaks into three component parts subtitled “I. Strange Geometry,” “II. Fade Away” and “III. Life Disintegrates.”

This, mind you, is the opener. Goya lead with this. On Harvester of Bongloads. One has to imagine it would be a challenge for the three-piece to preach more to the converted than they are here, from the wink-and-nod dogwhistle name of the record to the absolute desire to overwhelm a listener who is 100 percent looking to be overwhelmed in exactly this way — the kind of individual who might go, “Yes, please drown me in riffs.” Goya are happy to give it a shot on Harvester of Bongloads, and “Omen” is a key manifestation of that. Its slow-motion plod is marked out first on drums and some far off manipulated noise, starting “I. Strange Geometry” quietly with its bassline and an eerie tension. I’m not entirely sure where the divides between the parts of “Omen” occur, and part of the reason for that is because the changes are so fluid, but that subdued opening builds subtly over the first four-plus minutes and gives way circa 4:30 to a full-tilt lumbering, Owens entering for the first verse after a swell of cymbal.

For something that’s already been on for five minutes, the impact is immediate. He, DeCarlo and Lose ride that groove for until shortly before eight minutes in, when the drums and bass drop out and the guitar introduces the next riff in classic stoner metal fashion. Is that the start of “II. Fade Away?” The lyrical telling of politicians destroying dreams and other such decay, so I’d believe it, but the actual line “fade away” is still to come, arriving as it does past the halfway point as the band have drifted from a long solo section at almost exactly the 12-minute mark into quiet psychedelia, the guitar in chill mode as the warmth of bass comes forward. It’s hypnotic, but doesn’t last. At 14:30, they launch into resumed tonal crush that carries them into “III. Life Disintegrates,” the rumbling, mournful conclusion of “Omen,” which ends with more fervent hits and a worthy crash for what’s come before it, shifting into the two-minute riff-roller “Germination.” An epilogue for the opening track? Maybe. It’s a quick play between groove and guitar solo, instrumental and ends in feedback, like a snippet of a longer jam, but it also feeds directly into “Misanthropy on High,” so it could be just as much an intro to side B as well.

To-date, Goya have not put out a release — album, EP, single, whatever — that did not in some way build on what’s come before it. Their sound, heavily drawn from Black Sabbath, SleepElectric WizardWindhand, etc., has steadily become more their own, and Harvester of Bongloads is a next step in that process. The attitude behind “Misanthropy on High” — which if it’s not on a t-shirt yet probably should be; one has to believe it will surface as a motto for Goya at some point — is part of that, but it’s just as much the manner in which the three-piece seem to be fighting their own songs. It’s almost like “Misanthropy on High” has a will of its own as its 11-plus minutes play out, and as Goya are performing it, they’re also working to control it, like at any second the whole thing could devolve into sheer noise-drenched chaos, fall completely apart under its own weight. That they are ultimately in command of that process is a factor in making their work develop as it has over the course of their albums, and as they’ve grown into it, they’ve become immediately identifiable by sound despite whatever familiar elements might persist. “Misanthropy on High” is a near-perfect execution of that and a callout to the disaffected to join them in the toward-oblivion nod the creation of which one imagines is Goya‘s very purpose for being.

Just as “Germination” fed directly into it, it leads to the six-minute closer “Disease,” which marks a relative uptick in tempo — closer to mid-paced, on some general scale — and finishes Harvester of Bongloads in a manner both acidic and kingly, Owens tossing out a few lines early before receding and coming back after the halfway point to make sure the emphasis on global decay and death is properly conveyed before they’re done. Rest assured, it is. A bit of shred follows in the last minute and a sudden cut to feedback and two last crashes end the album. The statement has been made, the point taken, the riffs meted out with duly punishing sensibility behind them, and as if to underscore the sincerity and lack of pretense at their core, Goya finish cold where one might’ve expected a long, stonerly fade.

One could go on waxing critical about how subtle touches like that further distinguish their work from a crowded underground sphere, but I’m not sure there’s a point. Fact is, Goya have become something of a litmus test for those who’d take them on — either you get it and can dig it, or you don’t and you can’t. They don’t seem to care much either way, and perhaps that’s for the better. A group so outwardly, loudly dedicated to flipping off existence in general shouldn’t at the same time be necessarily playing at accessibility, even to a niche audience, but don’t take that to mean they aren’t likewise pushing themselves to progress in their mammoth, consuming approach. While they may be disgusted with the world around them, Harvester of Bongloads is clearly a labor of love.

Goya, Harvester of Bongloads (2017)

Goya on Thee Facebooks

Goya on Instagram

Goya on Bandcamp

Opoponax Records BigCartel store

Tags: , , , , ,

The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five out March 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The beat rolls on, the bands play on, and Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five lands on March 24, bringing new tracks with it from Desert Suns and Chiefs. This latest installment of the ongoing and deeply admirable series of split LPs marks the first of 2017, arriving just a few months after Chapter Four (review here) brought together the colorful pairing of Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth. One has to wonder at this point what will happen when Ripple gets to Chapter 10 — we’re halfway there — and whether the label will issue a box set of all of these together in celebration of the scope of the project. Even if they made 20 or something and charged $150-$200 for them, it seems like a worthy endeavor, particularly as all the art ties together and whatnot.

My two cents, anyhow.

The PR wire has background and audio for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five. I’ve got a pretty good track record at this point of reviewing these, and I’ll hope to maintain that with this one as well, so please keep an eye out. Till then:

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-v-desert-suns-chiefs

The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V | Split album from Desert Suns and Chiefs

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V is released on vinyl on 24th March 2017

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

DESERT SUNS – In that space where psychedelia, blues-rock and doom coalesce, it’s there you’ll likely find Desert Suns. Formed in late 2013, from the outset the Californian quartet demonstrated a versatility rarely seen amongst their contemporaries. In no time at all they wrote, recorded and released their debut single ‘Burning Temples’ and by that same summer had already started to unload an arsenal of new sounds. Released in 2014, their self-titled debut reassured fans that they were far from one hit wonders. Containing haunting lyrics of alienation with compelling hooks, Desert Suns peddle an addictive and atmospheric energy of heavy rock familiar to fans of early ’70s proto-metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer.

CHIEFS – Having originally begun life as a two-piece back in January of 2012 in Phoenix, AZ, after years of releasing demos, touring and playing around Phoenix Valley the duo made the decision to relocate to San Diego, CA. Shortly after, they released a four-song demo entitled Buffalo Roam, and did numerous short West Coast tours to support it. Eventually the group became a three-piece with the permanent addition of bassist Jeff Podeszwik, who filled out the low-end of the band and transformed their sound. Hot off the heels of releasing a split 7″ with Fuzz Evil through Battleground Records, Chiefs released their debut full-length album Tomorrow’s Over and are now the latest addition to Ripple Music’s much coveted SCoH’s “Hall of Fame”.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V will get an official vinyl release on 24th March 2017 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd/
https://www.instagram.com/desertsunsband/
https://desertsuns.bandcamp.com/

http://www.wearechiefs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wearechiefs
https://wearechiefs.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wearechiefs/
https://twitter.com/chiefsphx

http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Bus, Them Bulls, Stinkeye, Buzzard Canyon, Motherbrain, Elder Druid, The Crazy Left Experience, The Watchers, Of the Horizon, Raj

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Today is the day the Quarterly Review passes the halfway point. This will be 21-30 of the total 60 for the six days, so there’s still a ways to go — you might say 50 percent — but it’s a milestone nonetheless. Once again it’s another roundup of cool stuff, kind of all over the place a little more than the last two days were, but as we go further along with these things, it’s good to mix it up after a while. There’s only so many times you can throw the word “lysergic” around and talk about jamming. That said, you’re getting some of that today as well from Portugal, so when it pops up, don’t be surprised. Much to do, so no need to delay.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Bus, The Unknown Secretary

bus-the-unknown-secretary

Athenian double-guitar four-piece Bus execute a stylistically cohesive, crisp debut with The Unknown Secretary (on Twin Earth Records), presenting classic heavy rock elements without going full-retro in their sound itself and marking songs like “Masteroid” as immediately distinct through the harmonized vocals of guitarist Bill City, joined in the band by guitarist Johnnie Chez, bassist Chob D’oh and drummer Aris. Together they run through a clean two sides that play back and forth between proto-metallic and doom shading – “Don’t Fear Your Demon” touches on slower Pentagram – while sounding perhaps most comfortable in rockers like “Withered Thorn” or the earlier stomper “New Black Volume,” which puts its two guitars to excellent use ahead of and between unabashedly poppy (not sure a full Ghost comparison is warranted) verse, and craft a highlight in the 7:38 arena-ready thrust of “Rockerbus” prior to the surprisingly nodding finale of “Jimi.” A strikingly efficient and clear-headed first full-length that would seem to hold much promise of things to come from yet another player in Greece’s emergent heavy scene.

Bus on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Them Bulls, Them Bulls

them-bulls-them-bulls.jpg

With the start-stop riff of opener “As Fangs in Stone,” a mastering job by Mathias Schneeberger and the breadth of pop melodicism in cuts that one, the swinging “Made of Ghosts,” and the more percussive “Through the Sun,” Italian four-piece Them Bulls make a pretty strong beeline for early-Queens of the Stone Age-style heavy desert rock. Their self-titled Small Stone debut isn’t without individualized flourish, but the 10-track/41-minute offering makes it clear from the start what its intentions are and then sets about living up to them, whether on the careening Songs for the Deaf-ery of “Pot Gun” or the penultimate “We Must Live Up” itself. Vocal interplay from guitarists Daniele Pollio and Franscesco Pasi – joined by the rhythm section of bassist Paolo Baldini and drummer Giampaolo Farnedi – provides an opportunity for future growth, but it’s worth noting that for a band to take on such a specific stylization, their songwriting needs to be in check, and Them Bulls’ is.

Them Bulls on Thee Facebooks

Them Bulls at Small Stone Records

 

Stinkeye, Llantera Demos

stinkeye-llantera-demos

What seems to be Stinkeye’s debut recording, Llantera Demos, arrives as a free download of four tracks and 16 minutes rife with thickened boogie and dense mecha-stoner fuzz, reminding of Dead Meadow immediately in the echoing vocals and rhythmic bounce of “Orange Man” but moving into some shuffle on the subsequent “Fink Ployd” and “Llantera,” the latter a well-earned showcase of bass tone. While out on the coast, ‘70s vibes reign supreme, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are on a different tip, looser in their swing and apparently more prone to drift. For what it’s worth, they call it “hash rock,” and fair enough as “Pink Clam,” which closes Llantera Demos, rides more of a grunge-laden nod to an immersive but still relatively quick five-minute finish, building after three minutes in to a satisfying final instrumental push. Loaded with potential in tone, execution, vibe and dynamic between the three-piece, Llantera Demos immediately marks Stinkeye out as a band to watch and is just begging for the right person to come along and press it to tape.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

 

Buzzard Canyon, Hellfire and Whiskey

buzzard-canyon-hellfire-and-whiskey.jpg

Want to grab attention with your debut long-player? Calling a song “Louder than God” might be a good way to go. That track, at seven minutes, is the longest on Connecticut five-piece Buzzard Canyon’s Hellfire and Whiskey (on Salt of the Earth), and following a quiet initial stretch, it launches into Down-style Southern chug, the dual vocals of Amber Leigh and guitarist Aaron Lewis (the latter also of When the Deadbolt Breaks) veering into and out of more metallic impulses to build on the initial momentum established on the earlier “Highway Run” and “SomaBitch.” The two-minute “For the End” basks in some nightmarish vision of rockabilly, while “Red Beards Massacre” and “Wyoming” dig into more straightforward stylistic patterning, but if Buzzard Canyon want to get a little weird either here or going forward, that’s clearly not about to hurt them. Closer “Not My Cross” hints at some darker visions to come in how it moves into and out of a droning interlude, adding yet more intrigue to their deceptively multifaceted foundation.

Buzzard Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records website

 

Motherbrain, Voodoo Nasty

motherbrain voodoo nasty

Though “Atomic Rodeo” dips into some Queens of the Stone Age-style groove, Motherbrain’s third album, Voodoo Nasty (on Setalight Records), comes across as more defined by its nasty than its voodoo as the Berlin four-piece demonstrate a penchant for incorporating harsher sludge tendencies, especially in vocal shouts peppered in amid the otherwise not-unfriendly proceedings. That gives the nine-song/48-minute offering a meaner edge but does little ultimately to take away from the groove on offer in the opening title-track or “Ghoul of Kolkata,” and though it retains its raw spirit, Voodoo Nasty digs into some more complex fare later in longer cuts like “Baptism of Fire” and “Half Past Human,” having found a place in centerpiece “Dismantling God” where blown-out noise aggression and semi-psychedelic swirl can coexist, if not peacefully then at least for a while until Motherbrain decide it’s time to give Kyuss-style desert rock another kick in its ass, as on “Sons of Kong,” which, yes, does proclaim a lineage.

Motherbrain on Thee Facebooks

Setalight Records website

 

Elder Druid, Magicka

elder druid magicka

Sludge-rolling five-piece Elder Druid riff forth with their debut studio offering, the five-song/33-minute Magicka EP, which one might be tempted to tag as a demo were it not for a few prior live-tracked short releases that appear to have served that purpose, the latest of which, The Attic Sessions (discussed here), came out in Jan. 2016. The experience of putting that together as well as their prior singles clearly benefited the Northern Irish outfit on Magicka, and while they retain a shouty spirit on opener “Rogue Mystic,” middle cut “The Warlock” offers nod that reminds of The Kings of Frog Island’s “Welcome to the Void,” and that’s about all I ever need. Ever. Served up with bloated tones and geared toward establishing a blend of gruff vocals and consuming fuzz, Elder Druid’s first studio recording has a solid footing in what it wants to accomplish sound-wise and plainly showcases that, and while they have some growing to do and patience to learn in their songcraft, nothing I hear on Magicka argues against their getting there in time.

Elder Druid on Thee Facebooks

Elder Druid on Bandcamp

 

The Crazy Left Experience, Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey

the-crazy-left-experience-bills-108th-space-odyssey

The Crazy Left Experience – the moniker seeming to refer to the side of the brain at work in their processes – present Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey almost as an album within an album. The framework from the at-least-party-improvised Portuguese cosmic jammers on the seven-track/56-minute outing centers around William Millarc, who in 1955 was documented while taking part in LSD experiments. Samples of Millarc are peppered into opener “Subject Bill,” the later “Funky Meteor Drop” and the closing duo “Bill Sided Flashback” and “God of the Outer Rings,” but between the opener and the latter trio of cuts comes “Unarius,” a three-part excursion listed as “Part V” through “Part VII” that presumably is the representation of when our friend Bill has left his body behind. So be it. One can hardly call that departure incongruous either sonically or in terms of The Crazy Left Experience’s chosen theme – though there are some unrelated samples spliced into “Unarius – Part VII (Space Brothers)” that are somewhat jarring – and the entire flow of the record is so hypnotic that the band can basically go wherever they want, which of course they do.

The Crazy Left Experience on Thee Facebooks

The Crazy Left Experience on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Sabbath Highway

the watchers sabbath highway

Were it not for the context of knowing that vocalist Tim Narducci and bassist Cornbread hail from SpiralArms and White Witch Canyon, drummer Carter Kennedy from Orchid and guitarist Jeremy Von Eppic from Black Gates, the Sabbath Highway debut EP (on Ripple Music) from California’s The Watchers would be almost impossibly coherent for a first outing. Classic in form but modern in its presentation, the five-tracker – four plus the church-organ interlude “Requiem” between the opening title-cut (video here) and “Call the Priest” – makes the most of Narducci’s ‘70s-style vocal push, reminding of one-time Ripple troupe Stone Axe in his oldschool feel, but as “Today” (premiered here) makes plain, The Watchers are much more focused on learning from the past than repeating it. The straightforward songwriting and all-we’re-here-to-do-is-kick-ass sentiment behind Sabbath Highway might well prove formative compared to what The Watchers do next – presumably that’s a full-length, but one never knows; they sound ready to get down to business  – but it makes its ambitions plain in its hooks and swiftly delivers on its promises.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Of the Horizon, Of the Horizon

of the horizon self-titled

I can’t speak to the present status of California’s Of the Horizon, since last I heard bassist Kayt Vigil was in Italy working with Sonic Wolves, but their self-titled five-track debut full-length arrives via Kozmik Artifactz no less switched on for the half-decade that has passed since it was recorded. Guitarist Mike Hanne howls out throaty incantations to suit the post-Sleep riffing of opener “3 Feet” and drummer Shig pushes the roll of “Caravan” forward into its final crashing slowdown effectively as Vigil ensures the subsequent centerpiece “Unknown” is duly thick beneath its spacious, jammy strum. The two longest slabs hit at the end in “Gladhander” (8:55) and the righteously lumbering “Hall of the Drunken King” (10:31) and feel somewhat like an album unto themselves, but when/if Of the Horizon make a return, they’ve established a working modus on this first full-length that should well satisfy the nod-converted and that demonstrates the timelessness of well-executed tonal onslaught.

Of the Horizon on Thee Facebooks

Of the Horizon at Kozmik Artifactz

 

Raj, Raj

raj self titled

Though it’s fair enough in terms of runtime, it almost seems like Milano sludge-rollers Raj (also written stylized in all-caps: RAJ) do the six tracks of their 20-minute self-titled debut EP a disservice by cramming them onto a single LP side. Not that one gets lost or the band fails to make an impression – far from it – but just that sounds so geared toward largesse and spaciousness beg for more room to flesh out. That, perhaps, is the interesting duality in Raj’s Raj, since even the massive plod of closer “Iron Matrix” lumbers through its course in a relatively short 4:45, never mind the speedier “Magic Wand” (2:47) or drone interlude “Black Mumbai” (1:51) – gone in a flash. The release moves through these, the earlier “Omegagame” and “Eurasia” and the penultimate “Kaluza” with marked fluidity and efficiency, giving Raj a mini-album feel, and with the atmosphere in “Black Mumbai” and in the surrounding material, their rumble sets up a dynamic that seems primed for further exploration.

Raj on Thee Facebooks

Raj on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,